Following a meeting at the Bush Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon on Saturday 27th October, where a large attendance gathered, of concerned individuals and members from all groups involved in the anti-fracking campaign.
A unanimous agrement by all in attendance, that a statement should be issued as follows.
“We demand a complete ban on fracking in Ireland, i.e. a ban on on-shore unconventional hydrocarbon exploration and extraction inter alia also called hydraulic fracturing.”
As Founder and Secretary of the Irish Environmental Forum, I was requested to chair this meeting. Our Forum felt that it was important that a united approach to a complete ban on Fracking in Ireland should be the goal, by all groups in the campaign. It was evident that all groups and indiviuals had one aim and one aim only, that was to ban this fracking outright throughout Ireland and not just in Letrim.
It was also evident, that the amount of work already put into this campaign was huge and comprehensive by all groups and the meeting at Bush Hotel on the 27th further showed that this determination and fight would not stop until the Government, its Agencies and the Industry in Question would walk away defeated from this project.
The Irish Environmental Forum believes that under no circumstances, fracking should even be considered for any part of Ireland. It would be one of the biggest Environmental Disaster ever to hit Ireland. Campaigners working together have a huge strength and capacity to make real change, in particular, to make sure that the social system works for the ordinary people and not just for big industry.”
Another important item on the agenda was the Terms of Reference for the new EPA study on fracking. A lively discussion was held on an offer to the campaigners from the EPA to engage in a limited public participation exercise to formulate “a list of questions that need to be answered by the research”. The meeting unanimously agreed not to engage in any process other than full public consultation that would be suitable to all, that would take into account their concerns that they would raise, on certain aspects of that full public particapation. Nothing could be taken for granted until these questions have been answered in full and agreed by all.
The concern to the EPA been immune from proscution under the EPA Act was raised. This meant that no one in the EPA would be held accountable, should the EPA make any decision in relation to Fracking that would impact on the community regarding its environment and human health in particular.
Another concern were the public comments by the Director General of the EPA, Ms Laura Burke “ That the Environmental Protection Agency should not be racing to proscute business for not complying with environmental licences and regulations” The question must be asked, if the EPA themselves does not intend to uphold the law to protect the Environment in Leitrim or any part of Ireland, then who will? It certainly cannot inspire confidence in any process that the EPA would be involved in.
A statement was issued by the meeting asking all environmental groups, including members of the Irish Environmental Network, not to engage in the process proposed. Strong feelings at the meeting, that any proposal from Government or Agencies should be made directly to the Community where fracking is been considered.
During the discussion it was pointed out that on 19th November (the final date for the proposed EP/EPA ‘consultation’ to be submitted) the EU was taking a very important vote.
Apparently 9 EU countries threatened with fracking have already officially submitted their county’s hard copy and online petitions to be presented to the commission in time to add weight to the vote against the adoption of these reports – Ireland is apparently noticeably absent from the list.
It is vital that all petitions are returned as soon as possible to Ineke Scholte at Mass Hill, Tubercurry, Sligo. She can also be contacted by email :
Our forum was happy to facilitate this meeting and that decisive decisions were take on an unanimously basis in coming to the decisions it did. This shows the strength and solidarity of the campaign and forms an excellent basis for going forward. Fracking would cause an environmental disaster nationally as well as locally and these big industries must learn that local communities have a voice and the strength to protect their land and their health.”
Secretary of the IEF
Before the meeting, the duet “Not Too Shabby” (Joanne Lawrie and Del Rickard) performed a special song against fracking: “Ireland’s dream”: